« AnteriorContinuar »
she talk of children, but Macbeth himself seems to
Upon my head they placed a fruitless crown,
For Banquo's issue have I filed my mind.'
The crown which the Witches promised to Macbeth soon becomes his fixed idea. He murders his kingand sleep. He slays, and sees the slain for ever before him. All that stand between him and his ambition are cut down, and afterwards raise their bloody heads as bodeful visions on his path. He turns Scotland into one great charnel-house. His mind is full of scorpions'; he is sick with the smell of all the blood he has shed. At last life and death become indifferent to him. When, on the day of battle, the tidings of his wife's death are brought to him, he speaks those profound words in which Shakespeare has embodied a whole melancholy life-philosophy :
She should have died hereafter ;
Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player
Signifying nothing.' This is the final result arrived at by Macbeth, the man who staked all to win power and glory. Without any underlining on the part of the poet, a speech like this embodies an absolute moral lesson. We feel its value all the more strongly, as Shakespeare's study of humanity in other parts of this play does not seem to have been totally unbiassed, but rather influenced by the moral impression which he desired to produce on the audience. The drama is even a little marred by the constant insistence on the fabula docet, the recurrent insinuation that such is the consequence of grasping at power by the aid of crime.' Macbeth, not by nature a bad man, might in the drama, as in real life, have tried to reconcile the people to that crime, which, after all, he had reluctantly committed, by making use of his power to rule well. The moral purport of the play excludes this possibility. The ice-cold, stony Lady Macbeth might be conceived as taking the consequences of her counsel and action as calmly as the high-born Locustas of the Renaissance, Catherine de' Medici, or the Countess of Somerset. But in this case we should have missed the moral lesson conveyed by her ruin, and, what would have been worse, the incomparable sleep-walking scene, which—whether it be perfectly motived or not-shows us in the most admirable manner how the sting of an evil conscience, even though it may be blunted by day, is sharpened again at night, and robs the guilty one of sleep and health.
noblemen of Scotland.
Attendants, and Messengers.